Monday, November 6, 2017

When did resilience become synonymous with socialism?

I carry a link to "Resilience: Building a world of resilient communities" on my side-bar because they have an interesting article every once in a while.

They also are dyed-in-the-wool socialists who have little use for capitalism.

This post is a communication to them even though it is unlikely that anybody from the Resilience website will ever read it.

The Tragedy of the Commons
Garrett Hardin wrote an essay in 1968 and The Tragedy of the Commons was a small part of that essay.

Let me retell the story in just a few words.

A village has a common pasture available for the ten families of the village to graze.  The pasture produces enough grass to produce 200 pounds of milk per day.  Each family has one cow on the pasture and harvests 20 pounds of milk (200 pounds/day divided by 10 cows).

As rational economic actors each family realizes, independently, that adding a second cow will almost double the amount of milk they get each day.  (200 pounds/day divided by 11 cows times two cows = 36.4 pounds/day).

Each family increases the number of cows to two, or three or four.  The pasture is quickly grazed down to the roots.  With no blades of grass intercepting the sun there is nothing for the cows to eat.  The cows die and the topsoil washes away.
 The benefits are "privatized" while the costs are "socialized".  That is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

The allure of socialism
The writers who espouse socialism envision an economy run by a benevolent dictator with a deep, deep understanding of the environment.  As you read their articles you cannot help but think that the benevolent dictator they envision are exact clones of themselves.

Friedrich Hayek wrote that people are drawn to the new because mastery of the old is difficult.  The only requirement to be in the vanguard of the "new" is a poor memory.

The myth of the 'benevolent dictator'
The fatal flaw of the writer's assumptions involves the nature of dictators.  Dictators are rarely benevolent because the playing field selects for the ruthless, single-minded pursuit of power.  Consider Stalin, Mao, Pol-pot...even recent US politicians as we tip toward socialism.  Homework assignment:  Watch the movie Sophia's Choice.

The utopian community sketched out by the writers might as well require unicorns for leaders as unicorns are about as common as benevolent dictators.

At least with capitalism the owner wants to protect his blood, sweat, toil and tears.  The owner must live with the consequences of his actions.

But there are places where socialism DOES work
Places like the family.  Places like very small tribal units.  What is the difference?

The difference is that families are bound by customs and taboos that are incredibly strong.

Those are the same customs and taboos that most of the writer's peers are dedicated to destroying.  The irony is delicious.  The only examples that can serve as a template for the future envisioned by the "futurists" are being destroyed by those same "futurists".

It begs the question:  Which do they want more, the utopia they spin with their words or naked power?


  1. Naked power which is reason why every utopia fails.

    Even families do not do well as a socialist unit, as our kids found out. We had a benevolent dictatorship. Kids were allowed to express their opinions--politely--and then parents made the decisions which the kids had to follow. No option for appeal. Capitalism was encouraged. If you did a job well, or extra chores, it was reflected in your allowance, or in your reward for a good report card. Simply amazing how well that worked to motivate the kiddos. Even the teen types.

  2. Yep, naked power. Then 'they' have control and can do what they want, and to hell with everybody else!

  3. Socialists want everything you have...except your job.

    1. They wanted my job. They wanted the pay, the authority and the status.

      What they did not want is the investment in learning how to do my job nor did they want the accountability.